With the holiday season upon us, many pet parents are planning to gather friends and family for fun festive parties. Keep in mind that although you might be ready to ‘Deck the Halls’, your four-legged friend may not be. Jingle Bells, Figgy Pudding and Tannenbaum create the perfect recipe for misbehavior. The family pooch probably isn’t accustomed to lots of guests and merriment, so he might be tempted to act out, if you’re not prepared. So, if you’re stressing about how to manage your pup so he doesn’t steal from the table, raid the trash, beg, jump, and whine, then ‘Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen (and Ladies)’; Santa isn’t the only one with a list this year.
Check out the following simple ways to help ensure your dog is on his best behavior and is the pawfect host this holiday season.
- Tire Him Out
A tired dog is a good dog. In all the preparation for your holiday party, it’s easy to forget how important it is to exercise your dog. Remember, a bored and restless pooch can get ‘bad to the bone’. Make it a high priority to take your dog out for a long walk or run him around in the yard. With all the preparation and attention to detail you’re doing to make your party perfect, having a wound up dog with pent up energy could mess up the whole works. The day of your party (before the guests arrive) exercise your dog so he can get it all out of his system. Dogs that are taken for regular walks, runs or hikes won’t need to release pent-up energy by chewing, begging or barking. This means he’ll be better behaved and more relaxed, so you can be, too.
- Keep Him Occupied
Be sure that you have an ample supply of your dogs’ favorite toys, treats, or bones – that you KNOW will keep him busy. Toys that stimulate your dog mentally will not only keep him occupied but the mental stimulation will help tire him out. If your dog is a Kong lover, try stuffing a Kong or two with peanut butter and them putting in the freezer – this will keep your pooch busy for a while! Food dispensing toys are also excellent options.
- Practice Good Behaviors
It’s never too late to reinforce and practice good behaviors. Start your dog on a refresher course of the basic commands (sit, lay down, stay, wait, leave it, etc.) today! As always, make sure you have high reward treats on hand. Also, be prepared on the day of your party or gathering with a good supply of those high reward treats so that you can continue to reward your dog for his good behavior.
- Have a Back-Up Plan
Even the most well behaved dogs can forget their manners with all of the excitement and distractions of holiday festivities so it’s important to have a plan B. If your pooch just can’t curb his enthusiasm, place him in his crate, behind a baby gate, or perhaps on a tether. If you do have to separate your pooch, give him something really special to keep him occupied. If your dog normally gets hard biscuits in a Kong, stuffing it instead with a mixture of high-quality dog food and some mashed sweet potatoes will be especially exciting.
- Assign Doggie Duty
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, it’s important that your pooch is attended to appropriately. Recruit and assign a family member or friend to help you keep on eye on your little four-legged host. They can help keep him in line, curtail any overly generous food-giving guests, and take your dog out for potty breaks and little walks.
So, don’t worry. With a little preparation and practice and a lot of consistency, your dog's good manners will so impress your guests (and Santa, too), that you both are sure to earn your spot on the “GOOD LIST” this holiday season.